Deshone Kizer started his performance that the NFL Combine by nailing the interview portion as pretty much everyone expected the poised and polished speaking former Notre Dame QB would. Once Kizer started participating in the speed/agility drills and throwing portions, however, he underwhelmed scouts and analysts in attendance casting doubt on his draft status for next month’s NFL Draft.
Late last week San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch came away impressed with Kizer following an interview. He told the USA Today, “Last night we had an interview with DeShone Kizer. This whole thing is not about an interview, but if we’re grading him on that alone, he blew the doors off of it. He’s an impressive young man.”
Lynch’s opinion matters quite a bit for Kizer as the 49ers are currently the owners of the #2 pick but are not the owners of a franchise quarterback. Colin Kaepernick is a free agent and Blaine Gabbert is a solid NFL backup at best.
So that part was all well and good. Once Kizer started getting measured and participating in drills, however, things didn’t go so well.
For starters, Kizer ran a 4.83 40 yard dash and recorded a 30.5 inch vertical. On the surface those numbers sound alright but his 40 yard dash was 9th out all quarterbacks trailing both Deshaun Watson (4.66) and Mitch Trubisky (4.67) who both are in the conversation, along with Kizer, as the top 3 quarterbacks in the draft. Kizer’s vertical was just 8th best. His broad jump 11th. His 3-cone drill also 11th and was dead last in that drill for quarterbacks.
From a measurables standpoint, Kizer did not help himself out at all in Indianapolis – especially for a quarterback who came into Indy with the reputation of being a good athlete and strong runner.
Once Kizer started taking part in the passing drills, some familiar problems resurfaced. On the positive, Kizer displayed his rocket arm. His arm strength has never been in doubt and he showed that time and time again the last two years. In fact, Kizer got some very high praise for his arm from a couple of former NFL standouts.
— NFL Now (@NFLNow) March 4, 2017
On the negative, his footwork and accuracy were not impressive. Most of Kizer’s throws were behind his receivers and his accuracy was inconsistent. Now, you can argue that he was throwing to receivers that he is not used to be, but then again so was every other quarterback. The other problem for Kizer is these are not new issues but rather an affirmation that in terms of his development he still has a lot of work to do.
The question now is, will Deshone Kizer’s draft stock drop? This is a year in which there is no consensus #1 quarterback. Kizer, Watson, and Trubisky are generally considered the consensus top 3 but outside of that, there is a whole lot of debate. Will a poor showing at the Combine relative to the competition be enough for his stock to fall?
If Kizer had a larger body of work and wasn’t carrying the baggage of last season’s 4-8 record around with him, his combine showing might not even be that big of a deal. Last year Jared Goff measured in very similarly to Kizer and he still went #1 overall. Goff also didn’t have a stellar record as a college starter. The difference here being Goff played for Cal and Kizer played for Notre Dame. NFL scouts expect more out of a quarterback from Notre Dame.
Kizer Needs to Nail His Pro Day
This was not the last chance for Kizer to impress scouts thankfully so he still has time to build back some momentum. Kizer has Notre Dame’s Pro Day to do just that and you can bet that there will be a large contingent of NFL scouts in attendance to watch him throw again. Kizer would be wise to recruit some of his old friends to throw to that day. I wonder if Chris Brown or Will Fuller will be busy that day. If not, Kizer would be wise to get either back on campus to throw to as he was much more comfortable throwing to both of them over any of the receivers on the 2016 roster.
Kizer would be wise to forget working on his 40 time or his vertical jump or anything else that involves the weight room and instead dedicate himself to working on his footwork. The measureables can be improved upon – especially once he’s in a NFL training facility every day. His passing is what he needs to show improvement on during Notre Dame’s Pro Day.
Not All Is Lost for Deshone Kizer
While Kizer’s performance in Indianapolis is certainly not what he was hoping for, he is still considered one of the best quarterbacks in the draft and a strong Pro Day could erase some of the negatives from the Combine. Anyone who puts on Kizer’s 2016 game film knows the problems that Kizer displayed in Indianapolis are there. The film don’t lie as they say. That said, his flaws are correctable.
Problems with footwork and accuracy go hand in hand. Any franchise that drafts Kizer knows that they need to work on his footwork. Kizer did help himself out in the interview room and in front of the podium. Kizer accepted responsibility for Notre Dame’s 4-8 saying that he just didn’t make enough plays. He didn’t blame anyone but himself even though there was plenty of blame to go around – including on the sidelines.
Kizer’s measureables didn’t stack up with the competition either, but the problems with the Notre Dame Strength & Conditioning program have been well documented so are they that surprising? Again, the film don’t lie and Kizer has shown in the past that he has some wheels and can make plays with his legs. Scouts won’t care as much if he can run a 4.7 vs. the 4.83 he ran in Indy but they will care that he can throw the football with consistent accuracy though.
At the end of the day, Kizer has arguably the best arm in the draft and he won people over in the interview room in Indianapolis. That alone could be enough for some scouts to put him atop their draft boards. He will still need to show some improvement between now and Notre Dame’s Pro Day to cement his place as a Top 10 pick.